Unusual Sitatunga Species found in Zambia

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    Aug 21, 2009
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    Unusual Sitatunga Species found in Zambia
    by Peter Flack

    I recently came across an unusual sitatunga species in the far northwestern corner of Zambia, approximately four kilometers from the Congo border and 28 kilometers from Angola. This small animal, which the local Lunda tribe calls, 哲akonga mvudi or bushbuck type sitatunga, as opposed to simply, æœvudi? the normal Zambezi sitatunga found in the country, lives in fingers of rain forest along watercourses, far from the normal papyrus swamp habitat of the Zambezi sitatunga.

    Being interested to know whether this animal, with a its spots and stripes, was a northern or forest sitatunga, a Zambezi or East African one, I took a sample and sent it off for analysis to Professor Terry Robinson, Head of the Evolutionary Genomics Group in the Department of Botany and Zoology at Stellenbosch University (Private Bag XI, Matieland 7602, South Africa). To my surprise, some weeks later, he advised me that they did not have sufficient sitatunga samples to compare against the sample with which I had provided him in order to reach a conclusion as to what type of sitatunga it might have been.

    So, I would like to make an appeal to all Spiral Horn Antelope Club (SHAC) members and anyone else who may successfully hunt a sitatunga in the future, to please send a sample to Professor Robinson. To do this, please take with you on your next safari, a scalpel, a pencil, a small, preferably flat, watertight container, a self sealing plastic bag, a piece of paper and some medicinal or plus 90% proof alcohol. Cut a small piece of flesh from the sitatunga, approximately one centimeter square and one millimeter thick, note the date, place, country where shot and type of sitatunga on the paper with the pencil (note that alcohol will not erase the graphite from the pencil lead), place the paper in the watertight container filled with alcohol along with the flesh, seal the container carefully in the plastic bag, post it to Professor Robinson at the address set out above and email me so that I can follow up receipt of your sample.

    In time, this will help enormously in the study of these shy and secretive animals and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you contributed in a meaningful way to advancing the understanding of them. Thank you so much.

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